Please note that each state’s notarization laws are different and may only apply to specific proceedings. Please check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws. Lastly, the information provided is not intended, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice. Members with particular needs concerning the specific issues mentioned should seek the guidance or retention of competent counsel.
NOTE: In some states and for some officials, the ability to swear in a witness is embedded within their professional licenses or within their official duties as a court reporter.
If you have any additional updates or changes to this information, please contact NCRA Director of State Government Relations Jocelynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other useful information pertaining to this topic may be found by visiting the National Notary Association: https://www.nationalnotary.org/ or the American Society of Notaries: https://www.asnnotary.org/
According to the National Notary Association, “remote notarization” happens when a signer personally appears before the Notary at the time of the notarization using audio-visual technology over the internet instead of being physically present in the same room. Remote online notarization is also called webcam notarization, online notarization, or virtual notarization.
Several states have implemented changes to laws in the past few months which allow for remote notarization, and we have attempted to gather that information for you here:
Congressional bill on electronic and remote notarizations
Congress is currently considering a bill, the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020," that was introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on March 18,2020. If enacted, the bill will authorize remote online notarizations nationally. For information, please visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3533/text.
Effective March 24, 2020, through April 16, 2020, official court reporters, special roving court reporters, special court reporters, supernumerary court reporters, and freelance court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the state of Alabama to a witness in a deposition or court proceeding or trial may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology if the deposition or court proceeding or trial is conducted by audio-video communication equipment that allows the court reporter and the witness simultaneously to view and orally communicate with each other, provided that the court reporter can positively identify the witness.
Can swear witnesses telephonically since the 1990s.
Effective April 10, 2020, remote online notarization may be used for notarial acts as valid witness to execution of documents, provided that procedures outlined in A.R.S. §§ 41-375 through 41-380 and rules promulgated by the Secretary of State are followed. This Executive Order shall remain in place until the new law, A.R.S. §§ 41-375 through 41-380, takes effect on July 1, 2020.
Effective March 27, 2020, the following statute is suspended: Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.310, subdivision (b), to the extent that subdivision limits a court’s authority to provide that a party deponent may appear at a deposition by telephone.
Effective March 27, 2020 until 30 days from March 27, 2020, unless extended further by Executive Order. The Executive Order temporarily suspends the requirement that the individual making a statement or executing a signature appear personally before a notarial officer, as set forth in C.R.S. § 24-21-506. This temporary suspension does not apply to any notarial act required by Title 1 of Colorado Revised Statutes. Governor Polis authorized the Colorado Secretary of State, consistent with the Secretary of State’s rulemaking authority under C.R.S. § 24-21-527(1)(a)-(f), to promulgate and issue temporary emergency rules to:
- Authorize notarial officers to perform notarizations where a person appears before a notarial officer remotely, by real-time audio-video communication; and
- Establish the standards and processes necessary to allow remote notarizations, including rules regarding authentication, verification of identity, and audio-video recording.
As of June 16, 2020, Executive Order No. 7Q, Section 3 is extended for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergency, including any period of renewal of such emergency.
Currently, there is no clear legal authority expressly barring a court reporter from administering an oath remotely, nor is there authority expressly permitting it. Remote depositions, in general, are permitted by Georgia’s Civil Practice Act. “[A] deposition may be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means only upon the stipulation of the parties or by order of the court. For purposes of the requirements of this chapter, a deposition taken by telephone or other remote electronic means is taken in the state and at the place where the deponent is to answer questions.” OCGA § 9-11-30(b)(4). However, the Act does not address whether a court reporter must be physically present with a witness in order to swear the witness in. No appellate legal authority interpreting this code section to impose a live swearing-in requirement could be located; however, no legal authority interpreting it to bar remote swearing-in was located either.
Effective March 26, 2020, Governor Pritzker ordered that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the requirement that a person must “appear before” a Notary Public commissioned under the laws of Illinois pursuant to the Illinois Notary Act, 5 ILCS 312/6-102, is satisfied if the Notary Public performs a remote notarization via two-way audio video communication technology, provided that the Notary Public commissioned in Illinois is physically within the State while performing the notarial act and the transaction follows the guidance posted by the Illinois Secretary of State on its website. Additionally, it was ordered that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, any act of witnessing required by Illinois law may be completed remotely by via two-way audio-video communication technology, provided that certain conditions are met.
Effective March 31, 2020 until further order by the Indiana Supreme Court. Notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Indiana may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology, provided they can positively identify the witness. All rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to remote testimony, depositions, and other legal testimony, that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-video communications equipment to administer oaths remotely, are suspended.
Effective March 22, 2020 until 11:59 P.M. on April 16, 2020, unless sooner terminated or extended in writing by Governor Reynolds. The Governor, pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(6) suspended the personal appearance requirement in Iowa Code § 9B.6, but only to the extent that the notarial act complies with the requirements of section 6 of 2019 Iowa Acts chapter 44 (Senate File 475) and communication technology. Additionally, the Governor, pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(d) and Iowa Code § 135.144(3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Healthy, temporarily suspended the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code §§ 144B.3, 633.279, and 633B.105, to the extent that they require the physical presence of a testator, settlor, principal, witness, or other person, if the person is present in a manner in which the witness or other person can see and hear the acts by electronic means, such as video conference, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, or other means, whether or not recorded.
Effective March 25, 2020 until further ordered by the State of Maine Supreme Judicial Court. An officer or other person before whom a deposition is to be taken is hereby authorized to administer oaths and take testimony remotely, so long as that officer or other person can both see and hear the deponent via audio-video communication equipment or technology for purposes of positively identifying the deponent. In addition, all parties are reminded that, “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (1) provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (2) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery.” M.R. Civ. P. 29. If the parties so stipulate to the person before whom the deposition is to be taken, that person has the authority to administer oaths.
Effective March 30, 2020 until the termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded, except as may be rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders. The order issues guidance to notaries public on the use of communications technologies that permit the notary to see and hear the person signing a document in realtime.
Effective January 1, 2019, the Minnesota Legislature enacted remote online notarization pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, allowing a notary public who is physically located in this state to perform a remote online notarial act as defined in Minnesota Statutes 358.645.
All persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Mississippi may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communications equipment for purposes of readily identifying the witness until otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Effective March 25, 2020, until otherwise further ordered by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The Court hereby suspends any local or Missouri Supreme Court rule that may be interpreted to require administering any oath or affirmation in-person when such oaths or affirmations can be administered remotely by available technologies, including videoconferencing or teleconferencing, and is not otherwise prohibited by any statutory or constitutional provision.
Effective October 1, 2019, Montana Notaries are permitted to perform remote notarizations for signers outside the state.
Effective March 23, 2020. Governor Sununu in Emergency Order #11, Pursuant to Executive Order 2020-4, has temporarily authorized the authority to perform secure online notarization.
Effective April 14, 2020, allows remote notarial acts during Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.
Effective March 7, 2020, through May 7, 2020, any notarial act that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that certain requirements are met. As of 2017, the New York Department of State, with regard to CPLR 3113(d), stated that "...with respect to civil depositions, a notary may under the specific provisions of Article 31 of the CPLR and in compliance therewith, swear in a remote witnesses…"
The webcam notarization law took effect August 1, 2019. The statute permits the Secretary of State to publish rules for remote notarization, but the Secretary of State is not required to do so.
The Ohio Notary Public Modernization Act took effect September 2019. An online notarization is permitted by an Ohio notary public who has been authorized by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to perform online notarizations. With regard to remote oath administration during depositions, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure contemplates the use of remote depositions (See Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6)). However, the rules do not state that the oath has to be administered in person. The Ohio rules regarding notaries public (see Ohio Revised Code 147) do not address the in-person administration of oaths at a deposition.
Effective March 21, 2020, the requirement of physical presence of notaries who are court reporters/stenographers participating in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings is suspended as pertaining to notarial acts and oaths of affirmations and will only last the duration of the declared disaster emergency.
The state’s remote notarizations are currently limited to paper documents only and signers for remote notarizations may only be identified through the Notary’s personal knowledge.
Effective March 13, 2020 until June 5, 2020, this Order further extends the suspension of in-person court proceedings. With regard to notarizing documents at this time, attorneys and judges are encouraged to utilize the “Online Notary Public Act,” Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-301, et seq., and the regulations promulgated by the Secretary of State at Sec. of State, Tenn. R. and Reg. 1360-07-03-.01. Additionally, with regard to court filings, declarations under penalty of perjury may be used as an alternative to a notary.
The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order No. 1 allowing for all participants in a civil or criminal proceeding – including a Texas Certified Shorthand Reporter – to appear remotely until it expires on May 8 or is extended.
Effective April 13, 2020, court reporters, as officers of the court, are authorized to administer oaths through remote electronic means without the witness being physically present. Court reporters may continue to administer oaths remotely unless existing laws are amended to require a witness to be in the physical presence of a court reporter.
Notaries public holding a commission to perform notarial acts in Vermont may perform a Remote Notarial Act while physically located in Vermont and only under specified conditions.
Virginia allows remote online notarization. Information about obtaining a commission can be found here.
Washington—Effective April 2, 2020 until otherwise ordered, the Supreme Court of Washington suspends any local or state court rule that requires administering any oath or affirmation in-person where such oaths or affirmations can be administered remotely by available technologies, including videoconferencing or teleconferencing, and is not otherwise prohibited by any statutory or constitutional provision.”
Effective March 25, 2020. The statutory regulation with respect to the provisions of the Code applicable to court reporters and other notaries, the requirements of personal appearance for a notarial act that relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on record is suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency.
Effective March 25, 2020 until April 30, 2020. Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s administrative and superintending authority, court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin may administer an oath to a witness at a deposition remotely via audio-visual communications technology from a location within the State of Wisconsin, provided the person administering the oath can see and hear the person and can identify the witness. It is further ordered that if a witness is not located within the State of Wisconsin, the witness may consent to being put on oath remotely via audio-visual communication technology by a court reporter qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin pursuant to this order. It is further oredered that (1) this order does not alter the ability of parties, by written stipulation, to provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner pursuant to Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 804.04; and (2) the parties to an action or proceeding may, by written stipulation, modify the procedures provided by this order. It is further ordered that the remote administration of an oath at a deposition via audio-visual communications technology pursuant to this order shall constitute the administration of an oath “before” a court reporter under Wis. Stat. §§ (Rules) 804.03(1) and 887.01(1) or any court order authorizing a deposition upon oral examination; and any other rule of procedure, court order, or opinion applicable to remote depositions that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-visual communication equipment to administer oaths at depositions remotely is hereby suspended.
Still to come
A few other states have enacted remote notarization laws, but these have not taken effect. If you work in one of the following states, be sure to check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws.
Arizona, effective July 1, 2020.
Iowa, effective July 1, 2020.
Maryland, effective October 1, 2020.
Nebraska, effective July 1, 2020.
As a final reminder, if any of your licenses are set to expire in the next few months, taking action early could help you keep working in case the situation worsens.